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Doctor Blames Attorneys for Surgical Mesh Controversy


This is a tough one to believe. A Minneapolis doctor issued a press release going on the attack against plaintiffs’ lawyers who are representing women seriously injured by synthetic mesh used to treat prolapse and incontinence

Dr. Jon Nielsen doesn’t let the facts get in the way.

Nielsen, a doctor at Oakdale Obstetrics & Gynecology in the Minneapolis, Minnesota used to deliver babies until this year. His biography says he has transitioned into relieving the medical complications for women that accompany aging. But in his release he tells patients that “plaintiff lawyers are in ‘attack mode’ and have demonized the MESH rather than the PROCEDURES that were ineffective.”

In other words – blame the bad lawyers and bad doctors, not the mesh.

It was in 2008 and again in 2011 that the federal watchdog agency, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a Public Health Safety Notification that said mesh complications are “not rare” and may include “pain, infection, bleeding, pain during sexual intercourse, organ perforation, and urinary problems.” There were also reports of “recurrent prolapse, neuro-muscular problems, vaginal scarring/shrinkage, and emotional problems.”

Surgeries using synthetic mesh to treat prolapse and incontinence have left thousands of women in mental and physical anguish, facing additional surgeries, and an uncertain financial future since the injuries often lead to permanent disability.

It doesn’t sound like a problem caused by a lawyer.

That is not the only misinformation or spin the good doctor is disseminating. He says “most of these surgical products have also been removed from the market,” referring to mesh that erodes through the vagina.

That simply is not true.

Most synthetic polypropylene mesh remains on the market with the exception of four meshes that Ethicon (Johnson & Johnson) announced in June it was gradually phasing out as well as Bard’s Avaulta mesh the company decided to pull from the U. S. market in July.

Why then does Dr. Nielsen say, “the vast majority of this information (mesh controversy) comes from law offices trying to secure business. Second, the mesh is not the problem, only certain surgeries using the mesh.”

In reality there were nearly 4,000 mesh-related injuries the FDA found in a three-year period from January 2008 to December 31, 2010. And many of those mesh injuries were associated with “mid-urethral slings” used to treat incontinence which Dr. Nielsen says “are not criticized or questioned by the FDA.”

However in the FDA’s July 2011 warning it says concerning mesh slings placed abdominally, “FDA continues to evaluate the effects of using surgical mesh to repair SUI and will communicate these findings at a later date.”

Litigation over synthetic mesh used to treat prolapse and incontinence is growing with five manufacturers facing thousands of cases consolidated in the Southern District of West Virginia and a sixth MDL in the Middle District of Georgia.

Already we know the result of the first trial that concluded in July in Bakersfield, California state court. Jurors there determined the Avaulta Plus Biosynthetic Support System vaginal implant caused Christine Scott’s chronic pain, mesh erosion, and incontinence and that she and her husband deserve the $5.5 million damage award after the Bard mesh eroded into her vagina, perforated her colon, leading to eight surgeries so far and ongoing, severe pain.

These are not cases born of some trial lawyer’s fantasy but real life injuries that the manufacturers knew or should have known would occur.

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